The Companions by Katie Flynn
In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.
Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.
Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.
Published: March 3, 2020
**I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
“The Companions” started off strong, I loved the premise of this novel – where the dead can transfer their consciousness to a server then be uploaded to different models of ‘robots’ depending on how much money the person had. The robots are called companions; they were designed to keep the survivors of a deadly contagious virus entertained during quarantine. After the first few chapters, the plot was non-existent; I had no idea where Flynn was taking her readers, or what the motives of the characters were. I thought that the quarantine would have more development and intrigue. What started the quarantine? Where did this mysterious virus originate from? What was with the high sea level rising, the warming of the planet? What did all of this have to do with a companion disobeying her programming to seek out the person who killed her when she was younger? I was left with many questions, but no answers to them.
The narration in the novel was jumpy – it jumped from one character to the next every chapter with little to no continuity between each character. The narration jumps from during the quarantine, after the quarantine, and after the recall of the companions. I kept wondering how characters managed to travel during the quarantine, and who helped them. There were too many gaps in knowledge during this novel; nothing was explained very well to the reader. It felt like there were many short stories involving the world Flynn created rather than a cohesive novel following characters during their adventure.
This whole novel felt very disjointed, the reader never stays with one character long enough for them to develop a relationship with the character, to feel anything for them. Flynn left the reader to read between the lines, to figure out for themselves what each character was doing in the time jumps. The plot was dismal – I thought that there were two separate ideas throughout the novel – the quarantine and the program defects with the companions.
I lost interest in the characters quickly, they were all underdeveloped and one dimensional. Flynn did not devote enough time to properly develop these characters. I did not feel a strong connection to any of them. There were too many characters involved in this novel that I could barely keep track of them. The companions kept switching bodies or changing names which made it more challenging to figure out the characters and which perspective we were reading.
I am not a fan of this novel; I think there are too many problems within this novel for me to properly enjoy it. The ending however, took me by surprise. I was very shocked that it ended very abruptly. Parts of this novel were good and intriguing, but those bits were too far and few between. I felt as if I was missing something throughout the novel, like something was just out of my own consciousness and grasp to fully enjoy this novel.
While reading this novel, I kept thinking that it seemed so familiar to me, as if I read or seen something very similar to this concept. At first I couldn’t figure out why it seemed so familiar to me, then I’ve realized that it’s because I’ve seen and read similar plots before. Overall this novel did not astound me; I was left feeling disappointed in yet another novel which earned 2/5 cups of tea.